When I say, "I'm the very worst missionary"? Yeah, I'm really not kidding.

I heard the familiar “tink, tink, tink” of a key or a ring or something being tapped on our front gate, the Costa Rica version of someone ringing your doorbell. It was after dark, and I had already pulled my hair up into a ponytail and ditched the bra for the night. So I told El Chupacabra there was someone at the door for him so he could deal with it and I wouldn’t have to.

I peaked down through the slats on the upstairs bathroom window, and I couldn’t see the guy’s face, but I could see that he had a crappy, dirty, ripped up shirt on, and filthy pants over gunky shoes.

I was annoyed. I thought, “Oh - Of course we have a bum on our doorstep! Go ask the Gringos - Gringos are suckers! They’ll give you money for your stupid, made-up, sob story! They’ll be good for a few colones - at least enough for you to get your next fix! ….How did this guy get past our guards?!”

El Chupacabra didn’t come back in right away, he just kept talking with the guy, and while he did, I got more and more irritated. At some point, I turned my harsh inner dialog toward God. “You know, God – we’re barely making it here. We really can’t afford to have every homeless junky in a 5-mile radius hitting us up for money and food and clothes. I don’t want these guys on our doorstep. We’re giving all the time and all the money we’ve got. Please, God, please let us keep our home to ourselves. Give us this one place, where we can lay down in the evening and not worry about who’s standing at the gate – give us this one safe place.”

I know that sounds bad. I know it does. It’s selfish. It’s rude. It’s entitled. But we’ve already had our house robbed and our car stolen. We’ve already blown through our savings, and then some, to be here. We’ve exhausted our resources. And I really don’t want to be a selfish asshole, but sometimes I just...am.

“Welp, what did he want - money?” By the time my husband came back in I was in full-on-snotty-bitch-mode.

As it turns out, he’s not a bum. He’s a construction worker living at the new project that’s going up two houses down from ours. He’s also a brand new Christian. He said he was going to be staying in our neighborhood for the next 6 months, and he was worried about being away from church for so long. He mentioned this to our guards and they told him to talk to us. He said he’d been watching us come and go all week and he was just waiting for us to be home long enough for him to come introduce himself. He was wondering if we could tell him where there’s a local church he could go to while he’s in the area.

I felt like SUCH A TURD!!

The guy knocked on my door literally looking for Jesus...

Thank God he got El Chupacabra who pointed him in the right direction, and then invited him out for coffee to show him the way. Seriously. Thank God for that. Otherwise? That poor guy would have come face to face with the Very Worst Missionary. And that's not cool. Not cool at all.


I keep telling myself that someday I’m gonna get this right…

If someone came to your door looking for Jesus, who would they find? Trust me, it’s worth asking yourself.


Fire bones.

He said, “There’s a fire in my bones!” And he said it like he meant it...

We were talking about the Church and the world, and where we see God moving in them. When the conversation turned to art and writing and music, he got very excited. He stretched his arms out wide and kind of bounced up and down a couple of times, the way someone does at a concert when the bass drops or something. He stood there for a second, swaying to the tune of some unheard song, then he clapped his hands together and that’s when he said it, the thing about having fire in his bones.

I wanted to stay, but I had to get out of there. I felt weird. I felt sort of... envious. I was thinking, “I want that. I want to get fire bones.

And then I thought, “If you write about this, don’t say ‘fire bones’ because it sounds like some kind of venereal disease.”

And then, “Of course, if it was an STD it would be a whole lot easier to get. ...But then for sure you couldn’t write about it.

Because that is how my brain works.

So anyway.

I sat in the car for a few minutes wondering about the disparity between my friend and me. Here he was, lit up for the things of God -- and I stood right next to him, holding a barely burning ember in the sweaty palm of my hand, hoping that no one else could see the difference between us.

A few nights later, we sat outside with some new friends, drinking fancy beer and White Russians and talking Jesus. We huddled around a fire pit, keeping the cold night to our backs as we laughed, telling stories and exploring the strengths and failings of our beloved Church together. It was a good night. And one of the things I took away from it (aside from a mild but lingering hangover and that achy feeling you get in your cheeks from smiling too much) was that a fire doesn’t keep burning unless it’s fueled and stoked. You can’t just light a fire and expect it to stay lit indefinitely.

While we hung out, the fire we sat around inevitably shrank. But only until our host would grab a log, use it to stir up the glowing char and then toss it in on top, and the fire would come back to life. Sometimes it would start to wane and one of the guys would lean in close and simply blow on the embers, and they would bloom into flames. It didn’t take much really, but it surely wouldn’t have lasted if it hadn’t been tended to.

And then I clearly saw the difference between my friend with the fire bones and me.

See, I haven’t really been tending to my spirit very well. The fire that once licked the air around me with flames of Hope and Grace and Peace has grown cold because I haven’t been adding the fuel it needs to stay alight. I haven’t really been diving into the Bible very much lately. I haven’t been engaging with God in prayer much. I haven’t been seeking Him with any sort of passion or excitement - this God that I claim to love. I haven’t been listening for Him.

Even though I know… I mean, like, I really know….

...His Word brings me to life.

...His presence is a burning light to my spirit.

...His breath ignites my soul.

My bones are glowing embers, longing to burst into flames once again.

I think it’s time to stoke the fire.

.......    ............    .......

How's your fire?



So I just spent nearly a month in the states. I ate a bunch. And drank a bunch. Then I ate a bunch more.

By the third week in, there were things jiggling in places I didn't know I owned. Bits of chub had accrued here and there, and everywhere. Pulling on my skinny jeans turned into an ugly scene involving no less than four sumo-wrestler knee-bends and a couple of other sweet hoochie moves which I will not be describing here.

It was pretty gross - like watching the "Biggest Loser" in reverse, but in the end there's no winner, just a fat missionary complaining about her muffin-top.

Ok. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration - but that is how I felt, rolling onto the plane and bouncing my way back to Costa Rica.

I felt full.

The truth is, I love Costa Rica and I love her people, but sometimes living here is like a slow form of starvation for me. Not a physical starvation - there's plenty of good stuff to chow down on in these parts - no, I'm talking about a depletion of Spirit, a growing thirst in my soul, a pang of hunger that gnaws away, not at my belly, but at my heart.

You know what it is? It's an insatiable longing for Church.

I know that sounds so stupid because I'm a missionary and all that, and you could be all, "Dude! Isn't doing "church", like, your job or something?!" and I'd have a tough time arguing with your reasoning. Maybe. But, for me, there's nothing like worshiping God in my home Church, alongside the folks who raised me up, the people who helped form my spirit, those I look to for prayer and support and guidance. There's no comparison to singing my guts out in my first spoken language. And I've found no substitute for the way my Pastor's words work their way around in my cluttered soul. So, whenever we're in the states, I drink Church in with more gusto than a triple-venti-skinny-caramel-macchiato from Starbucks.

My church fills me up.

Don't get me wrong - There are some awesome churches in Costa Rica! I don't want to demean what God is doing here, or the Churches that are obviously seeking Him as they serve. It's not them, it's me - half the time I don't even know what's going on. I find myself concentrating so hard on deciphering Spanish that I walk away feeling depleted. I find myself singing to the God of Verb Conjugation, wondering through every song why they used this word or that. It's not exactly worshipful. To be honest, sometimes I really hate going to church here. It's just so tiring...

But this in not intended to be a complaint. If anything, it should be a thank you note....or maybe it's a love letter...to my Church. My imperfect, annoyingly suburban, coffee swilling, programmed to the max Church...you are the Body of Christ to me. Thank you for that. You drag my sorry ass to the foot of the cross and point me to the shining light of Jesus - every. time. You've made me who I am and you're making me better still, and I love that. You plump me up enough to sustain me through the desert-y parts of life, and I'm grateful. Thank you!

.... .... .... ....

So now I'm back in Costa Rica, and I'm plump. Both in body and in spirit. I guess that means I'm ready to take on a new year and to build up a new hunger. I'm cool with that. Actually, I'm really looking forward to it - especially the part where I ditch the muffin-top. Cuz... Ew.

Did you pack on the pounds this season, or am I the only one sporting a mid-section like a jelly doughnut?!


This is not a list of resolutions!

I’ve never been much of a resolution maker. I guess I just don’t see the specialness of January 1st. In my head, it’s just another day and I’ll either do something good with it or I won’t...

Although I dig the thought of ringing in the New Year with the clinking of glasses and a public make-out session at the stroke of midnight, El Chupacabra and I stayed in last night. We played Mexican Train with my brother and his new wife, and we guzzled diet Coke and ate Reese’s Pieces. You couldn’t exactly call it an “epic” night - but I did laugh so hard I almost peed my pants, and that counts for quite a lot in my book.

We talked a lot about resolutions. The general consensus seemed to be that New Years Resolutions are just stupid. But, at the same time, we all had certain hopes for the coming year, certain things we’re planning on getting done, certain traits we’d like to trade in for something better. New Years Eve is as good a time as any to set goals and act as a marker for stuff like getting fit and organizing closets and spending less money on random crap. Normal stuff. My sis-in-law and I spent the entire afternoon trying on running shoes, so I could hardly deny the fact that I’ve been feeling a little spurred by the coming of 2011.

So, yeah, there are things I’d like to do this year, projects I’d like to start and finish, habits I’d like to break and others I’d like to build, goals I’d like to attain. I’m writing them here so that at the end of this year I’ll have a place to look, to see what I set out to do, and then to measure my level of suckage against it. (Let’s face it, the real reason I hate resolutions is that I lack resolve of any sort.)

So this is not a list of resolutions. This is my “In 2011, I hope to” list:

Enjoy coffee more (not to be confused with ‘enjoy more coffee’).

Not be a fatty.

Sleep more at night and less during the day.

Serve my husband in ways that honor his gifts and talents (and other, kinkier ways, too *wink wink*).

Speak more Spanish.

Be the kind of Mom whose kids call home after they move out.

Talk more about why I think the Church is awesome, even in all its wonky brokenness.

Write. something that doesn’t fit in a blog post.

Grow up…. ya know, a liiittle.

Point to --------> Jesus.

.... .... .... ....

Like I said, I'm not much of a resolution maker. Even as I type this out, I find myself questioning my own resolve to be a better person - wondering if this time next year I will regret having put this out there for my little blog world to see. But I'm going to hit 'post' anyway, because today is January 1st and I can either do something good with it... or not.

Cheers to a New Year, friends! A year filled with the outrageous goodness of God and the awesomeness found in a life of following Jesus! Here's to you, and to me, and to the beauty and mystery of all of us fitting together to be the Church. Here's to a Savior who not only gives us a new day, but lets us decide for ourselves what to do with it.

Happy, Happy New Year!

What about you - Are you a resolution maker? What's on your list??